Activision's Guitar Hero, 'Idol' Ad, Video Has Legs

American Idol winner Cook in Guitar Hero AdThe attention-getting stunt Activision pulled last week during the season finale of "American Idol" could prove more profitable than first thought. Not only does it market and promote the company's video game line but digital music, too.

Guitar Hero and "American Idol" fans were treated to some old time rock 'n' roll during the season finale with the debut of two new branding commercials starring winner David Cook and runner-up David Archuleta.

The concept for the ads continues where Tom Cruise's iconic scene in the 1983 movie "Risky Business" leaves off. Connecting with the audience in the 30-second spots, "American Idol" winner David Cook and finalist David Archuleta lip synch to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll" while playing a Guitar Hero guitar. The announcer says "Unleash your inner rock star."



An Activision spokeswoman says they won't likely run again on broadcast television but consumers can catch them online. One of many David Cook and David Archuleta Guitar Hero video commercials uploaded to Google's YouTube in the past six days had nearly 500,000 views on Tuesday.

Brett Ratner, the director of "X-Men: The Last Stand" and the "Rush Hour" trilogy, launched consultancy Brett Ratner Brands earlier this year and took on Activision as its first client.

Activision reported earning $44.2 million, or 14 cents per share, in the quarter ending March 31, compared with a loss of $14.4 million, or 5 cents per share, for the year ago period. Analysts believe the company can do it again.

Amy Shea, EVP at branding firm Brand Keys, says Activision's feel-good spots attempt to connect the product and the brand to consumers' life experiences by getting them to telegraphically access a set of images stored in memory. "Even if it's been done before, it's not a mistake for others to try it again," she says. "This time it could have a greater impact on consumers as long as there is a clear connection between the theme and the brand."

Not all campaigns that attempt to telegraphically connect with consumers succeed. Michael Jackson's song "Thriller" celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In anticipation of the occasion, groups of friends on the street and at weddings have videotaped themselves dancing to the beat, uploading the videos on YouTube.

Advertising and marketing agencies have tried to capitalize on consumer awareness. During the Super Bowl, SoBe Life Water ran an ad featuring Naomi Campbell and lizards dancing to "Thriller." Comments across the blogosphere were less than favorable.

Shea says the campaign was a mistake because the theme lacks a natural connection. Campbell isn't a dancer, and there's no relationship between water and Jackson's song.

"The brand shouldn't enter into a place that doesn't make sense," Shea says. "When brands access something that belongs to the consciousness of a collected generation like the scene from 'Risky Business' and 'Thriller,' they are asking permission from the audience to use it and the audience will tell them if it makes sense."

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